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Merlin Media’s All-Newsers Making Headlines. Although not for winning the radio news ratings wars – at least not yet. First, from New York, Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels is not going quietly in his hand-to-hand combat with CBS Radio. As you recall, CBS Radio lawyers sent Merlin a cease and desist for using permutations of WINS, New York’s “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” slogan. Merlin’s was, “Give us 10 minutes, we’ll give you the world.” That difference is important, according to Michaels, who responds that his station is not infringing or misleading consumers but accurately comparing WEMP-FM’s service to WINS’s. Still, Merlin agrees to stop using the phrase saying it’s not really important to its marketing plans. The biggie is Merlin is threatening action if CBS does not stop declaring that WINS is “New York’s One and Only News Station,” something Merlin states is “patently false” and comes under the category of a false advertising claim. In other Merlin Media news, its Chicago operation – WIQI-FM – is quietly testing a news partnership with NBC TV O&O WMAQ-TV, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. CBS’ WBBM-TV and WBBM-AM/FM have a working news relationship and now Michaels may have created a partnership with another of CBS’ news competitors in Chicago – namely NBC. Feder writes that the deal could mean FM News 101.1 would use NBC 5 audio on its newscasts, FM News 101.1 reporters could appear on NBC 5 newscasts or they could share assignments and online content. Feder reports the NBC brass is downplaying it as “very informal” as this point and “more of a test to see if we both can benefit.” Stay tuned.
Lionel Adds New York’s FM News to His Expanding Media Footprint. Iconoclastic talk show host and personality Lionel has been added to the programming menu at Merlin Media’s all-news outlet in New York (FM News 101.9) as the station’s resident “News Decoder” and legal analyst. The star of LionelMedia.com appears on the air 12 times-per-day with one-minute commentaries at :32 between 5:00 am to 11:00 am and 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Lionel also performs a similar role at Tribune’s New York TV outlet WPIX Channel 11 with 13 nightly news commentaries per week as well as appearances on the station’s Monday morning news program. Tribune has begun syndicating these Lionel features to its other television stations around the country.
Michele Tafoya to End PM Drive show on WCCO, Minneapolis. Working for CBS Radio’s WCCO, Minneapolis and doing her sports work for NBC TV has been too much for Michele Tafoya so she’s giving up the radio talk show. CBS Minneapolis market manager Mick Anselmo tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “She just runs out of gas. She’s coming out of 20 consecutive weeks of working seven days a week. We’ve had ongoing conversations about this. We’d hoped to find kind of a natural break. The Super Bowl is it.” Tafoya will work the Super Bowl for NBC and then take on the Olympics this summer. As for WCCO, the station moves late-morning host John Williams (who does the show from WGN studios in Chicago) to the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and John Hines takes over the late-morning shift for now.
Dial Global Partners with CBS Radio’s KMOX, St. Louis to Syndicate “Overnight America with Jon Grayson.” The number of quality nationally syndicated overnight talk radio programs grows by one as Dial Global works out a deal with CBS Radio and KMOX, St. Louis to make “Overnight America with Jon Grayson” available nationally. Grayson’s program has been heard on CBS’ KDKA, Pittsburgh and WCCO, Minneapolis as well. Dial Global SVP of news/talk Amy Bolton states, “Programmers across the country know that a solid overnight show is critical to strong morning drive ratings. Overnight America brings strong audiences to daybreak.” The overnight daypart is getting crowded with syndicated offerings that already include Premiere Network’s “Coast to Coast AM”; Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon; Cumulus Media Network’s “Red Eye Radio”; and Genesis Communications Network’s “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney, to name a few.
Clear Channel Names Kevin Dorsey President of Traffic, Navigation and Mobility. Kevin Dorsey has been with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment since September as SVP of national advertising platforms. Now he’s upped to president of traffic, navigation and mobility where according to CC, he’ll “oversee the continued integration of Metro Networks with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Total Traffic Networks and will manage and further develop innovative programs including broadcast traffic reporting, online traffic mapping, custom routes and personalized mobile navigation. His responsibilities will also include building integrated connections with ‘consumers on the go’ over the air, online and via mobile.”
Broadcaster’s Foundation of America Mourns Passing of James Delmonico. It was James J. Delmonico who is credited with taking over the Broadcast Pioneers organization in 1991, changing its name and setting it on the course that would increase its treasury, profile and ability to assist those in need. Delmonico passed away Saturday at age 91 in Syracuse. BFoA chairman Philip J. Lombardo says, “Jim was a tireless leader for the organization, inspiring the appointment of many notables to the board of directors with new focus, determination, and purpose. Jim was known for challenging his fellow board members to be supportive both financially and by encouraging others to do so. Under his chairmanship, Jim brought new strengths to the organization in those early and important bedrock years. He will be missed.” The organization says that Delmonico “inherited an organization with a treasury of less than $30,000 and few grant recipients in 1991. Through Delmonico’s leadership and inspiration, and that of his successors – Ward L. Quaal, Edward F. McLaughlin and chairman Philip J. Lombardo – the organization today has an outreach that will exceed $700,000 in grants this year.”
Gingrich Wins SC Primary, President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Iran Oil Embargo, Joe Paterno Passes Away and Super Bowl Matchup Set Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/23). Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina victory keeps GOP primary going; President Obama prepares to deliver the State of the Union address this evening; Iran threatens to close Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo; Joe Paterno dies and adds a twist to the Penn State sex abuse case; plus the Super Bowl is set for a rematch between the Patriots and Giants. These were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Southern California Radio Host LaFern Cusack and Partners Take “Broad Topics” Program to TV. LaFern Cusack is well known in Southern California for her weekly program on ESPN O&O KSPN, Los Angeles and Radio Disney’s “Playground.” She and co-hosts Laura Nickerson and Lauren Kelley have also been producing and hosting the internet radio show “Broad Topics” since 2008. Now, the trio is bringing the program to local television via cable TV in Santa Monica through a partnership that has been made possible by the Commission on the Status of Women in an effort to bring the woman’s voice to current issues. The program was the brainchild of Nickerson who says she wanted “to create a forum for honest discussion of what’s going on in the world from an actual woman’s perspective. Aren’t we all sick of the male media voice telling us all what to think? Besides that, my kids were sick to death of hearing me go on about social policy during ‘Sesame Street.’” Taping of the show will begin in late March.
Doc Ties the Knot. WLW, Cincinnati late morning talk host Doc Thompson (r) is pictured here at his wedding with his lovely bride Yuna Lee (c) and WRVA, Richmond morning host and program director Jimmy Barrett (l). Thompson and Lee met at WRVA where Thompson still hosts the PM drive show from Cincinnati. Yuna Lee is a news anchor at WHIO-TV, Dayton.